WHEN: Saturday, January 3 at 3 p.m. CT
WHERE: Moody Coliseum (Dallas, Texas)
TV/RADIO: CBS Sports Network/770 KAAM
SERIES: The Mustangs hold a 5-4 series lead over the Pirates.
LAST MEETING: ECU won the last two games of the series, most recently 72-69 in Dallas on Feb. 23, 2013 when the teams were in Conference USA.
SMU is coming off two road wins including a comeback win at Temple. The problem is SMU is now without Keith Frazier, who was averaging 10 points and four rebounds per game. While Frazier was inconsistent, his backups Sterling Brown and Ben Emelogu have not proven to be able to score by any means. SMU has to have a huge game from Markus Kennedy and Nic Moore to settle the ship and get some confidence without Frazier out there.
East Carolina’s scoring comes from a trio of guards, B.J. Tyson, Terry Whisnant and Caleb White and White and Whisnant can both shoot from beyond the arc well enough to make SMU respect them. East Carolina (8-9) is looking to get back to .500 though and are just flat out not a great team, but if the Pirates can get hot and SMU kills itself with turnovers, it could be a game as we’ve seen SMU play down to the level of their opponents a few times this season.
Three Players to Watch
B.J. Tyson: SMU will have to slow down East Carolina’s leading scorer at 13.5 points per game to put a dent in the Pirates offense. Judging by Ryan Manuel’s ability to stop a team’s best guard this year, SMU has a good chance of doing so.
Terry Whisnant: The Pirates’ second leading scorer is the elder statesman of their backcourt as a junior. The 6-3 guard is averaging over 12 points a game. Just another threat for SMU to keep an eye on.
Caleb White: White is shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point land and that’s a problem for SMU to have to defend White and Whisnant and Tyson. SMU better make sure White doesn’t get hot today.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
SMU backcourt vs. ECU backcourt: SMU is down one of their main shooting threats from the backcourt and ECU has a trio that can put a lot of stress on SMU’s guards to defend. At times this season, SMU has not rotated well against the three-point attempts, but that has been better as of late. All of the ECU guards take their fair share of three-point attempts and SMU will have to stop them if they’ll want to grab a win.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Rebounding and turnovers. As always, turnovers are key for SMU. Nic Moore had six in the first half against Temple and was playing poorly then turned it around in the second half to score big baskets down the stretch and have one turnover in the second half.